A lawsuit was filed this month in Los Angeles Superior Court accusing Bikram Choudhury, the founder of Bikram yoga, of sexually harassing and discriminating against a female student.
The Daily Mail is reporting that Sarah Baughn, 29, claims Choudhury, 67, pursued her for years, sexually assaulting her and then sabotaging her yoga career when she continued to resist him.
Ms Baughn claims the problem started in 2005 at a teacher-training seminar in Los Angeles when Choudhury extended a rather bizarre invitation to her.
“I know you from a past life. We have a connection. It is amazing. Should we make this a relationship?” he allegedly asked.
Baughn, who is an instructor herself, avoided Choudhury but continued his classes. On one occasion, he forced himself upon her while cursing his wife, saying she was terrible and “so mean” to him.
In 2008, Baughn claims that he deliberately rigged the outcome of a yoga competition to make her rank second behind a woman with whom he was “sharing a room.”
For those of you who are not aware, Bikram yoga is similar to “hot yoga” in that it is performed in rooms that are heated to a sweltering 105F and consists of a series of 26 poses which have been patented by Choudhury.
The native-born Indian, who teaches his yoga style in a Speedo, claims he came up with the idea while living in Calcutta and noticing that his students performed better if the windows in the studio were closed. He eventually immigrated to the U.S. and developed his own style of yoga which he says is designed to stimulate every organ and gland in the body to bring about perfect harmony.
His “mean” wife Rajashree, helps him to run his multi-million dollar business.
Choudhury is a controversial figure who claims to be Jesus and Elvis rolled into one, and loves to brag about his fleet of Roll-Royces and his pool which he says is “the biggest pool in Beverly Hills.”
Lest you think Choudhury is an aberration, you might want to read this article about the last big guru fall – John Friend, founder of Anusara – whose indiscreet womanizing revealed a year ago.
Unfortunately, Choudhury and Friend join a long list of gurus who have taken their love and harmony message a bit too far. Click here to read more.